July 19, 2016

UFC on FOX 20: Holly Holm Is In A High Risk, Low Reward Main Event

By Adam Martin

One of the very best female fighters in MMA returns this weekend, as former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm meets Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of UFC on FOX 20.

It's Holm's first fight since she lost her title to Miesha Tate, who choked her out cold at UFC 196 in one of the most exciting comebacks in MMA all year.
Holm was a minute and a half away from retaining her belt against Tate, as she controlled the majority of the fight with her striking, but ultimately the fight went to the ground, and Tate got Holm's back, taking her title in the process.

With Ronda Rousey out of action, it was widely expected that Tate would rematch Holm in her first title defense due to how competitive the first fight was, but the UFC decided to go with Amanda Nunes instead. The Nunes selection drew all sorts of eye rolls, but ultimately the matchmakers were proven right to give her the title shot, as she absolutely obliterated Tate in the main event of UFC 200, one of 2016's breakthrough performances.

While Tate won the belt and got to main event arguably the biggest card in the sport's history at UFC 200, the UFC instead booked Holm in the main event at UFC on FOX 20 against the dangerous but unknown Shevchenko, a fight that's high risk yet low reward for Holm.

That's because even if Holm wins in impressive fashion, there's a good chance she doesn't get the next title shot. Instead, it's likely that Rousey does instead, as UFC president Dana White announced this past weekend that Rousey will get a title shot when she returns to the Octagon, despite her last outing featuring her getting booted in the head by Holm and KO'd with ground and pound at UFC 193.

Ultimately, the UFC is a business, and Rousey is one of the biggest draws in the sport. It could be argued Holm is also someone the fans want to see fight, but it's totally understandable that the UFC wants to go with Rousey instead, although Nunes is a really tough return bout for her.

But getting back to Holm, this fight with Shevchenko doesn't feature much upside yet it's a tough fight. After all, Shevchenko's only loss in the UFC is to Nunes, the champ, and she actually did quite well in that fight in hindsight. She is a dangerous striker with a solid ground game, and even though she isn't highly ranked, she's a fighter who can beat anyone in the division, including Holm, making this a tough matchup for Holm that likely won't result in a title shot.

Still, Holm will get paid, and Holm needs to get back into the cage and get a win. The fight with Shevchenko is certainly winnable, but the risk vs. reward isn't where it should be, considering Holm was the one who dethroned Rousey and nearly beat Tate. All Holm can do now is go out there this weekend, beat Shevchenko, and cross her fingers in the hopes that Rousey delays her return again,
because if Rousey returns, it might be a while before Holm gets another title fight, even though she deserves it.

UFC on FOX 20
Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko

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UFC on Fox 20: Holm vs. Shevchenko takes place on July 23, 2016 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC on Fox 20 will be.

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